African Union: Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders urgently requires financial and technical support
15 Oct 2012
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ARTICLE 19 is concerned that the African Union’s Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Reine Alapini Gansou lacks adequate financial and technical support to carry out her mandate. ARTICLE 19 calls on the Africa Union to urgently provide help to this important mandate so that it can work to ensure the safety of human rights defenders in the continent.
Special Rapporteur Reine Alapini Gansou noted in her report to the 52nd ordinary session of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights in Yamoussoukro, Cote d'Ivoire that she faces various challenges in carrying out her mandate, including a lack of technical and financial support.
Gansou complained that African Union members do not respond to her letters and are therefore impeding a healthy discussion and collaboration between them and her office.
ARTICLE 19 is concerned that out of the 264 communications that she has sent, only 32 have been responded to, showing a lack of commitment to address issues surrounding the safety of human rights defenders.
Gansou cited Tunisia, Algeria and Mauritania as some of the countries that readily responded to her communications, compared to Ethiopia and Sudan.
Other challenges highlighted in her report include:
- a hostile political environment that continues to make the work of human rights defenders harder
- undue restrictions on the right to freedom of assembly and association and a lack of adequate capacity building for human rights defenders
- particular violations faced by women human rights defenders who need specific interventions that are not yet being undertaken.
ARTICLE 19 calls on the African Union to provide adequate support to Gansou’s office. ARTICLE 19 also urges Gansou to undertake a joint mission to Ethiopia and Sudan with the African Union’s Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression. Both Ethiopia and Sudan have indicated willingness to facilitate a visit.
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